HUDSON — St. Croix County has suspended all public access to county buildings in accordance with the sixth — and highest — phase of its pandemic preparedness response plan. Meanwhile Hudson City Hall will also close to the public effective Tuesday, March 24, according to a news release from the city.

Mandated court services or scheduled appointments are the exception.

The county will continue to provide essential county services to residents through appointments, emails or calls, Assistant County Administrator Ken Witt said.

County courts do still have hours, but are reducing the types of cases and doing many electronically, Witt said.

The county’s approximately 650 full-time employees fall into three categories, Witt said. Essential staff who have to perform work on site include the dispatch center, sheriff’s office and the jail.

The majority of employees fall into the essential staff who can work remotely, Witt said. The county has invested into technology in the last few years that has allowed the transition to go smoothly.

The minority of employees are nonessential staff that are not able to work remotely. These employees are on paid administrative leave at this point, Witt said.

On Monday, March 16 the county board declared a state of emergency in a special board meeting.

The declaration allows for potential reimbursement of state or federal funding regarding the county’s response to COVID-19 pandemic.

It also gives County Administrator Patrick Thompson some discretionary authority to take action on personnel or other matters relating to the county’s response to COVID-19. The administrator must report back to the board on a monthly basis, and the board has the authority to suspend any changes made by the administrator.

Closing the buildings is one of the actions Thompson has taken, Witt said.

Thompson has also hired additional staffing to the county’s public health department, including bringing back two former staff members who had retired.

As of March 23, the county had three confirmed cases of the respiratory illness COVID-19.

Hudson City Hall

When Hudson City Hall closes Tuesday, emails and phones will still be answered by staff, and business as usual will be conducted in a different way, according to a news release.

The city also announced that absentee voting will be available by appointment only. Appointments can be made by calling the city clerk’s office at 715-386-4765 or by email at cityclerk@hudsonwi.gov. Voters are encouraged to request absentee ballots to vote by email with the city clerk or at myvote.wi.gov.

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